1859 November A contingent of the Corps was dispatched to Charles Town following John Brown's raid on the Harper's Ferry arsenal. Cadets stood guard at Brown's execution on December 2.
~John Brown was a militant American abolitionist, whose capture and execution following his raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, [West] Virginia made him a martyr to the antislavery cause. This series of events also contributed to a heightening of the sectional animosities that increasingly divided north and south. Less than two years after Brown's death, the country would be at war.~
1861 April The Corps was sent to Richmond, where cadets drilled Confederate army recruits. The commanding officer during this trip was Major Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson, who had joined VMI's faculty in 1851 as professor of natural and experimental philosophy and instructor of artillery. Jackson accepted a commission and left for active duty soon after the Corps arrived in Richmond.
The Corps was ordered to aid General Jackson's forces during the McDowell campaign. The cadets, commanded by Scott Shipp, marched in pursuit of Federal troops but were not engaged in battle.
1863 May General Stonewall Jackson died on May 10 from wounds received at the Battle of Chancellorsville, and his body was returned to Lexington for burial.
~Thomas Jonathan (Stonewall) Jackson
served on the VMI Faculty as Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy & Instructor of Artillery from August 1851 until the beginning of the Civil War in April 1861. The Virginia Military Institute Archives holds a large collection of Stonewall Jackson's personal papers, Jackson images, and other information about his life and times.~
1863 August-December Tthe Corps was called into the field to defend against the raids of General William Averell, but were not engaged in battle.
1864 May 15. The Battle of New Market
The Corps, again under the command of Scott Shipp, marched into battle along with General John C. Breckinridge's forces against Federal troops led by General Franz Sigel. Ten cadets were mortally wounded.
1864 June 11 Federal troops, under the command of General David Hunter, entered Lexington. The Corps retreated to a camp in the Blue Ridge near Balcony Falls. VMI was burned the next day by Hunter's soldiers. On June 25 the Corps returned to Lexington, only to be furloughed two days later.
1864 December Academic work resumed at the Alms House in Richmond, VMI's temporary headquarters.
1865 April Richmond was evacuated and the Corps disbanded. The Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox.
VMI reopened in Lexington.